Posted by: John Looker | 20 October, 2017

Ever Onwards

This poem of mine has been published in the Australian online arts journal Communion:


Ever Onwards

African plains: and a gazelle foal running
       flat-out through grassland and river.
             Or swallows: recently fledged, soaring
      over sea and mountain, contending with
             tempest, hawk and marksman.

Townscape now and a man who will always get by:
      straight from school to the pit on a boy’s wage;
            on to the buildings when it closed; the mill;
      then motor mechanic helping the boss
             at night with those well-paid ‘specials’.

Now at the wheel of a truck he’s hungry, lost,
      peering through rain on his first assignment,
            staring into the dark and the dazzling
      oncoming lights. But as he likes to say
             there’s nothing that he can’t do; nothing.  

© John Looker 2017


The latest issue of Communion may be read at:

You will find it contains fiction, non-fiction, art, photography, music and (of course) poetry. There are nine other poets; all have been published here and there and several are prize winners or prize nominees. I’ve greatly enjoyed their poems – which are unpretentious but distinguished, and notable for their humanity.

‘Ever Onwards’ is one of a short group of new poems on the theme of looking at Life through people at work.


  1. Ah, John. I have known this young man. I have. I have only been to Australia once, but it was a memorable trip with the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. I am excited to see you published in journals. If anyone deserves that you do. You are a great poet. I say that again.
    This is more of a lyric than anything else. It has a biography that stands for a life in it, a narrative that tells a story, but the first stanza gives it a lyric quality that leads to the smile at the end. Your poetry is wonderful.


    • You are extremely kind Tom – thank you. I’m glad you feel you recognise this young man, as I felt him to be someone we may meet anywhere, anytime. I might have guessed your travels would have taken you to Australia!


  2. I’d say John this is one of your best– the analogies accumulate force and suddenly swerve into the sublime/tragic. The lineage expressive of deepening perception of a core vision. Tremendous!


    • As usual Tom you seem to know what I’m aiming for with the structure. I’m very glad you feel it works – very many thanks.


  3. Hi John, I like this guy with his gutsy, uncomplaining, irrepressible spirit – the same life-force indeed that propels the racing gazelle and soaring swallow.

    He reminds me of my wonderful Grandad Dawson, who died 42 years ago. He was very much a self-made man. Worked in a quarry as a 12 year-old boy, was decorated for bravery in the trenches during WWI, joined the police and rose to the rank of Chief Inspector. A gifted, self-taught violinist and natural storyteller too.

    Lost at the wheel of a truck he may be, your character, but I reckon he’ll make out okay. Terrific poem – much enjoyed it.

    My very best – have a good weekend,



    • Many thanks Paul – not least for sharing these reminiscences, which somehow help to validate the poem for me. I had in mind a particular incident when I was a young hitchhiker and had a lift from exactly this truck driver, and in these circumstances. Yet the underlying subject of the poem, for me, was the ‘life-force’ of which you speak. You have a good weekend too. John


  4. I love this John, though it puts me at the limits of my expressive abilities to say why. The commentators above put it better perhaps… but for me it was the way it linked the dignity of labour with more expansive and wondrous feelings about the world…


    • Thank you Andy. I wasn’t sure that this one would resonate with anyone, but I’m delighted that it does. It might add that there were several more recent examples in my mind of people I’d known for whom these lines seem entirely appropriate.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on getting this poem published – it is fully worthy of the honor. I commend the poem’s progression from wild-life freedom to the “dazzling oncoming lights.” Congratulations! Whenever my husband and I go out of town we take a taxi to the airport and enjoy listening to the taxi driver’s life stories. Many are akin to this poem and all are interesting.


    • Thank you so much Jane. I think we all have a little bit of that truck driver in us, and perhaps we need it!


  6. I’m so very pleased that this wonderful poem was chosen for publication in Communion. Another richly deserved success that recognises the top-drawer quality of your poetry. I love how this one tells such an expansive tale (in more ways than one) in such an economical way. So much said – stories within stories – in so few words. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you Bennison Books – that is really most kind and most supportive. 😊


  8. The comment from Bennison Books above says just what I would want to say.


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